It is time to write about time!
The past few weeks have been a bit hard. I have been seriously thinking about what to do regarding time management, routines, activities..etc. I don't want to be overbooked. I don't want to feel burnt out. I don't want to forget my main goal. I want to provide the best possible environment for my children to learn. I want them to lead the way but I want to help them build the road (or at least help them read a few road signs!)
So far, I have loved using Montessori principals, and materials. My kids enjoyed exploring the main areas: Practical life, sensorial, language arts, and the little bits of math I get here and there. I will continue to follow Montessori's principals. But also I have been feeling a pull towards unschooling. My kids like to make their own things, they like to be left to themselves to play, they enjoy learning on their own. In fact, the more I interfere the worst it gets! From their sibling relationship to helping my daughter write. She continues to come up with different ways to write every letter. She just loves writing her own way, and since it can be read I should let her find her style.
Both kids ask to go to the learning room on a daily basis. But lately we have been too busy to go there every day. We are overbooked. I need to prioritize our schedules. I had to think about this a lot. You would wonder... what do you need to do if you are unschooling? Why do you need a learning room? The truth is, I feel that unschooling for my family is about letting the kids have a voice in what they are going to do. Yes they are small, but they are very capable of showing me their interests. All I want to do is help them reach their potential, help them find a way to satisfy their curiosity, expose them to experiences where they can think on their own and not what they are told to think. But most of all, I want to give them the attention they want from me.
I want homeschooling to be about my kids. Not about me. I am not homeschooling to get them ahead and show them off (it is not likely to happen...my kids are normal kids... I know I studied gifted Ed.). I am not homeschooling to try to be a better teacher than the teachers in schools (I know plenty of better teachers who are currently working. Mrs. McKearin you are one of them!). I want to homeschool my kids so they can be who they want to be, like what they want to like, learn what they want to learn...you get the point. Hence, I need to make a few changes. What worked in the past will no longer be of use to us. Out the window goes my weekly activity plan. Our new flexible schedule is here to stay... no more planned activities. Instead more child driven activities! If my kids are happy one Tuesday morning playing legos... well it will be Lego day. If they want to stay exploring their Montessori materials the whole day Wednesday, that is what we will do. If they have a strong interest we will go and explore it!
Side note: my daughter was really into getting to visit the police station. We were lucky to bump into the chief who gave us a tour and put my kids in their holding cell! My kids loved it! So unplanned, and so perfect! (sadly I forgot my camera)
Back to the free schedule...Now I finally get it! For a long time I questioned: Why other homeschoolers couldn't hang out with us all the time? Why did they stay at home so much? And, why do they all seemed so busy? They are busy learning! My kids want to be home or just out and about with me. They want to learn, and explore with me, and I need to provide the opportunities to do just that. I know they realized that when we participate in activities with others from our homeschool group my attention is divided. I wouldn't say that I ignored them, but I am not focusing on them. From the rush to be on time, to stretching their limits so I can chat with a friend for a bit longer. I realized that the activities were more important to me, and that the kids actually prefer to not participate. I need to listen to them.
We will continue to participate in Mandarin-Chinese lessons as both of the kids really enjoy them. Their interest has become contagious! I have never considered learning Mandarin before, but this mami is going to catch up so we can share the excitement. As for now, I am getting materials from the library, and practicing what I am learning with my the kids Mandarin teacher, who is also my co-worker and new found friend.
The kids and I will also participate in activities for the two homeschool groups we are part of. BUT the activities have to be in their high interest's list. It is not something that happens often. I need to stay away from too many playdates, too many activities, and too many anything else that the kids don't want to do. I truly want to give them a voice.
Share your thoughts...how do you find the balance? If it was up to my kids we will only leave the house to see horses, and to go to subway for a sandwich ;)